Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Court of Wings and Ruin

I have loved Sarah J. Maas's books ever since I read Crown of Midnight. I did enjoy Throne of Glass, but in a tentative way. it felt a little like a fledgling bird, still trying to get the wind under its wings. Crown of Midnight solved that problem and had me glued to the page. And with every book that followed, I became more and more invested in Maas's characters. Aelin, Elide, Chaol, and more. And then I saw that she was writing a new series, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Initially, I was upset. Did this mean the release dates for the next TOG book would be pushed out? How could this be happening? But at this point I was such a Maas fan that I couldn't be too sad. So I dove into ACOTAR, and then ACOMAF, and fell in love with a whole new cast of characters. But then another problem presented itself. Although I had read eight of Maas's books, she had yet to finish a series. What if she sucked at wrapping it up? That is a lot of time invested in one person's books that could end up being disappointing. Well, how did Maas fare?


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Feyre has rejoined the Spring Court, intent on bringing it down from the inside. Her old love, Tamlin, sold out her family and his court to Hybern to get her back, and now the king has a foothold from which to take down the entire world Feyre has come to love. With the help of her mate, Rhysand, friends Amren, Cassian, Azriel, and Mor. As war approaches, they must gather any support they can in order to defeat Hybern and the darkness that threatens to consume Prythian.

This book. Wow. I mean...wow. Did it stall in some places? Yes. Was I a teeny tiny bit disappointed by how nicely it wrapped up? Yes. But did I adore every single character and where my eyes glued to the page? Absolutely. Several former plot threads are picked up again and tied into the main story. Feyre and Rhys are so damn good for each other, though the message of choice is a little like a battering ram. There are so many different representations of sexuality without judgment. They don't all stick the landing perfectly, but is so good to see those representations presented as a fact of life rather than a huge revelation that there might be something different than one guy and one girl who kiss once and end up together forever. Oh, and Feyre's sisters end up being delightful additions to the large cast. Nesta and Elain, so distinct from each other and so obviously related. The building up of each character as having a distinct past, a different thing to gain/lose from the outcome of the war, and a different style of speaking...it blew me away. And then it all comes together in the end with some badass fighting, mythology, and heartbreak. Well done, Maas, well done. It might not be a perfect book, but I don't think I would want it to be. If there's one thing this book shows you, it's that trying to be exactly what other people want is no way to live your life.

Now where is Tower of Dawn?

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: The Siren by Kiera Cass

Monday, May 22, 2017

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Sometimes I'm in the mood for something light and fluffy. Don't get me wrong, I love me some dark fantasy with heart-shattering plot twists and brutal mysteries. In fact, I'm pretty sure that's what my next review will be about! But there are also days when I want a cheery little romance where the guy gets the girl and they all live happily ever after with swoon-worthy kisses. And fitting the bill? The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.

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Hadley is on her way to London to watch her dad marry someone who is not her mom. When she misses her flight, it turns out to be fate in more than one way. Because the flight she ends up on has Oliver, a British boy who makes her forget the horrible day she's about to have.

Really, there's no need for a longer description than that. Hadley meets Oliver, they flirt, get separated at the airport, and then they meet again. It's a very short book that's both cute and slightly annoying. It's cute because who doesn't want to meet a smart, kind British boy who lies about being your boyfriend so he can sit next to you on a transatlantic flight? It's cute because some of the banter is just plain adorable. It's cute because it's really trying to be British. It's cute because it took be back to the days when I would analyze every single thing a guy said, parsing it to see if he secretly liked me. Ah, youth. So this book does make you smile, and for us older folks, a little nostalgic. But it's also annoying. Because Hadley's dad is a jerk. Who marries someone that has never met his daughter? Who doesn't see his daughter for a year and basically ditches his family without even a "sorry"? Who forces his daughter to be a bridesmaid in said wedding? I don't know, but even the heartfelt talk between Hadley and her dad at the end did not make me at all sympathetic toward him. He was just having his cake, eating it too, and then making Hadley wash all the dishes. But at the same time, I squirmed a bit when Hadley basically forced the wedding party to put everything on hold so she could have a weepy talk with her dad. Eh. It couldn't wait until afterward? Overall, it was a light read that was nothing more than I expected. I knew it wasn't going to have Kristan Higgins levels of romance and character interactions. It didn't knock my socks off, but it did make me smile a bit. And at the end of the day, that's mostly what I'm after from contemporary romance novels.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Truthwitch

When I first saw Susan Dennard's Something Strange and Deadly series, I was wary but also excited. I mean, zombies in the Civil War? I thought it would either be one of the best things I'd ever read, or the worst. And somewhat unfortunately, it hit somewhere in the middle. I wanted more Civil War, I wanted deeper character exploration...I wanted more of everything. I was left sort of disappointed and missing what made it a favorite for a lot of people. Nevertheless, when I saw the copy and cover of Truthwitch, I thought I'd give it a go. Maybe I couldn't get into her other series because I've never been a zombie person. Maybe having a fantasy focus instead of sort of fantasy/steampunk would appeal to me more.

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The young witches Safiya and Iseult have no interest in being linchpins in the coming war between countries. But it seems they'll be dragged into it nonetheless. Safi is a rare Truthwitch who can tell when people are lying. Her skills are coveted by the king, and when she is promised to him in marriage, she flees with the aid of her uncle. Chased by a Bloodwitch, the threadsisters put their fate in the hands of Prince Merik, whose nation's future depends on delivering them safely under order of Safi's uncle. All Safi and Iseult want is their freedom, but with everyone after their abilities or their heads, that may not be possible.

I'll start by saying that I did like this book more than Something Strange and Deadly. Where those stories spanned weeks and didn't manage to make me feel the character relationships, this story sidesteps this problem by taking place over a grand total of maybe three days. No, I did not really care about Safi and Merik's romance. I did care much more about the friendship between Iseult and Safi. I never really bonded with the political intrigue going on, though I did love the concept of bargains being written on spelled paper where if one person doesn't fulfill their end of the deal, their name disappears. The deal that Safi be delivered without having spilled blood made for an interesting dynamic, though I wonder if the deal might have been more interesting if it included not letting her spill blood. It seems to me that interpretation still fits the wording and would have annoyed Safi even more. All in all, it was a mixed bag of interesting characters and a world with a lot of potential. I hope it gets expanded on in Windwitch.

Goodreads Rating: 3 Stars
Up Next: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Flamecaster

Hi, all! Sorry I dropped off the face of the earth there for a while. Once again, life got crazy. I mean, seriously, I have a whiteboard calendar on my wall and it is covered in things I have to do. But on the plus side, I've gotten into a good reading rhythm lately that's resulted in me having many many reviews to share with you! So let's get right to it with Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima.


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Ash is the son of the queen of the Fells. Forced into hiding after a series of murders shakes the queendom, he sets his sights on revenging his family. At the same time, Jenna Bandelow has lived a life of hardship. Forced to hide her gender to evade capture by people who want her dead for rebellion, Jenna is thrust into the world of political intrigue when a faraway queen demands her as payment for troops in support of the war. Eventually, Ash and Jenna's stories collide in the capital of Arden which has been waging war against the Fells for over a decade.

Oh this was such a hard choice for me. I had such mixed results with Chima's books. I adored her slow-building plots in the Seven Realms series. But I've been tepid about every book in her Heir Chronicles. So when I saw that the author was returning to the Seven Realms for a story following the children of Hans and Raisa, I near-on did a jig. The book starts with something so awful and sad that I dare not speak of it because I refuse to believe it's true. It was such an evil evil thing to do to the readers, which I commend, but still makes me very sad. From there...things get sporadic. There are several jumps in time which make things feel oddly rushed for such a long book. I felt like I was being told things were important and slow building, without actually getting to see it. Perhaps I am spoiled by Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive, but I want to be shown how relationships build, not told about it. But, despite this odd rushed sense, I did enjoy the mystery surrounding Jenna. I suspected what her powers were long before they were revealed, but it was still enjoyable getting there. Her and Ash's relationship didn't make me swoon, but it was sweet. I know the next book in the series follows a different set of characters, so I understand the need to build the romance here faster than in the Seven Realms series. And just when I was thinking the book was moderately good, the ending put it squarely in the "good" column. So I will definitely be reading Shadowcaster.

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars (probably closer to 3.75)
Up Next: Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Friday, May 19, 2017

6th Blogoversary

It's hard to believe that 6 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Back then I had just finished high school, had one book to my name, and thought this blog would be better focused on my clearly excellent writing advice. Since then, I've gone to university and graduated with degrees in history and English. I've written five more books, one of which was published briefly. I've worked a plethora of publishing jobs before settling down in my current job as a marketer at a publishing house. I adore my job and the people I work with and the books I get to help shepherd into the world.

This blog is now about reviews, a way to explain to myself (and obviously you all) why I do and do not like certain books. I used to only read young adult, and while that's still the primary genre I read,  more and more I'm branching into adult books as well.

I don't have much else to say here, but I want to thank everyone who reads this blog. I know I disappear for a while sometimes (like last month) but I really do enjoy coming here and talking about books.

Happy blogoversary!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Words of Radiance

It's rare that I review an adult book on this blog. Usually it's an honor reserved for Kristan Higgins books because they're so funny. But now I've got a book that is just so amazing it needs to be reviewed. Plus, the author also writes YA so I'm calling it close enough. Words of Radiance, the second book in the Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. And since I've already sort of given away my opinion, on with the review!


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With her powers revealed to Jasnah, Shallan and her mentor are headed to the Shattered Plains to alert Jasnah's uncle Dalinar to the potential threat of the Parshmen. But when tragedy strikes at sea, Shallan must make her way alone while grappling with her burgeoning powers of illusion. Meanwhile, Kaladin has been put in charge of the king's personal guard, a position never held by a darkeyes. With the Assassin in White killing leaders around the world and political machinations in the war camps, he struggles with keeping his charges safe. As these characters come to terms with their powers and try to stay alive, the Everstorm approaches, threatening to send the world into a Desolation from which it may not survive.

This series. I mean, talk about a slow burn. Each book clocks in at over a thousand pages with interludes between the parts and a wide range of fleshed out characters and a skillfully crafted, incredibly vast and complex world. The magic reveals itself slowly. Scholarship is not always correct. There are splinter groups within religions and different cultures within those. There is science and gender roles and magic and highstorms and spren and love and deceit and I could go on and on and on. You're really just in it for the ride. Because despite its massive length, there are many twists and turns, many of which surprised me. I cannot wait to sink my teeth into Oathbringer when it comes out in the fall. Because this is a world I think will stick with me. The characters are so real, and their struggles manage to be personal and impact the world on a grander scale. Bravo, Sanderson, bravo. (Also, Kaladin meeting Shallan is possibly my favorite meet-cute in the history of ever)

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Flamecaster by Cinda Williams Chima

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Crooked Kingdom

My roommate and I are both severe bookworms. Like, we dream of sharing a three-bedroom apartment one day where the third bedroom can be the library. So it should come as no surprise that we sometimes read together. Separate books, but in the same room and we often stop reading to exclaim/complain about whatever is happening in that book. Most recently for me, that book was Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo. It had been sitting on my shelf for many months because I was afraid of the story ending and being sad. Needless to say, I exclaimed a lot while reading this book.


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There are more troubles for Kaz Brekker and the team he took with him to break into the Ice Court in an impossible heist. Inej has been captured, and after being double crossed the team is looking for their money, and their revenge against Wylan's father. They have one last con to pull off, and it might be the craziest of them all.

This book...where to start. I adored every single page of it. The world is so rich and well thought out. The characters are all distinct with their own lives, worries, beliefs, and desires. There's a con kept me guessing, heartbreak, costumes, and kissing (squee!) There's magic and lore and Ketterdam is such a horrible, awesome city. I won't go on for too long because it would probably come across as sycophantic. If you have ever enjoyed reading fantasy, you NEED to pick up this series straight away. It is so good it's not even funny. The banter between all of the characters is sublime. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me cringe. Leigh Bardugo is now firmly in the camp of "I will read any napkin she ever writes on." This is a camp formerly only occupied by Maggie Stiefvater, so it's an exclusive club. Seriously....just read it.

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars
Up Next: Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson